Updated fire code could spark new GarCo ordinance | PostIndependent.com

Updated fire code could spark new GarCo ordinance

Post Independent Photo/Kelley CoxFlames run along a fenceline on the Jackson property south of Glenwood Springs during a recent controlled burn.

A new fire code could trigger changes in how Garfield County handles outdoor burning.The county commissioners adopted the 2003 International Fire Code earlier this year and debated its implications on Monday. According to Sheriff Lou Vallario, under the new fire code, each fire district in the county can set its own criteria for open burning, and each district must enforce its regulations.If a countywide fire ban is imposed, as the commissioners have done in the last few years, that ban “trumps the International Fire Code and provides a ban across the board regardless of the fire district.”

Both Vallario and County Attorney Don DeFord urged the commissioners to enact an ordinance that would supersede the fire code and nullify the need for a fire ban.”What (the commissioners) were talking about was removing from the International Fire Code those provisions for open burning,” Vallario said. The ordinance would establish a uniform permitting process for all open burning throughout the county. It would also give the sheriff the authority to enforce those regulations whether they’re in a fire district or not, Vallario said.”I’m offering the ability to enforce open burning anywhere in county, to avoid having commissioners having to do a ban, unless there are extreme circumstances.”A person wanting to burn material outdoors would go to the sheriff’s office or local fire district to request a permit. Each permit would have minimal requirements, including having a water source nearby, and accountability if a fire gets out of control. Each fire district could add its own requirements as well, Vallario said.For example, the Glenwood Springs Fire Department prohibits open burning from May to October, unless weather permits, and that could be a part of the ordinance. It also requires a site inspection before issuing a burn permit.

“Glenwood has a denser population, and they need tighter restrictions,” Vallario said.The regulation “would not so much be to put a hurt on people but so we know there’s burning going on,” he said.One twist in the ordinance would affect owners of agricultural land. The new fire code does not require agricultural landowners to have a permit for open burning. The ordinance would.Vallario said he did not want the ordinance to be onerous for ranchers and farmers, however.

“This isn’t a big process, but would be notifying us so we know ahead of time” where the burn would be located.The commissioners tabled the idea of a new ordinance for further discussion.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 510dgray@postindependent.com

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